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Religion and Contemporary Management

Religion and Contemporary Management

Arthur J. Wolak


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Although few might think of Moses as a ‘leader’ in the contemporary business and political sense, Moses is not only among the most significant leaders in Western civilization but is also arguably the quintessential example of a powerful leader from whom much can be learned by anyone entering and occupying leadership positions. Various types of leadership approaches are considered that have been advocated by scholars over the past century. Moses’ example as described in the Bible is analyzed to assert why Moses’ approach makes for an appropriate and compelling form of leadership today.

While present leadership and management vocabulary might differ from the Hebrew Bible, many of the notions advocated by modern leadership theorists appear to parallel major behaviors, traits, functions, experiences and actions ascribed to Moses, especially in the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. Anyone can view Moses through the lens of a particular religion, whether shared or not, and still learn considerably from the experience. One will find Moses depicted as heroic, charismatic, and certainly empathic. Yet, Moses also shows transactional, transformational and visionary leadership qualities. Hence, ‘Religion and Contemporary Management’ discerns why Moses represents such an important model of effective leadership for contemporary times.

"For any reader who aspires to change the landscape of modern society, whether in business, politics, religion, or any other area where leaders have power, Religion and Contemporary Management: Moses as a Model for Effective Leadership is a valuable resource. It’s time to free ourselves from the corruption that seems so rampant these days, and to follow in the footsteps of Moses."
—Larry Pate, Chief Learning Officer, Decision Systems International, and Adjunct Professor, California State University, Long Beach, USA

“In his down-to-earth, accessible writing style, Wolak extracts key lessons from Moses and other Jewish leaders, and extrapolates those features of successful leadership that go beyond the religious context. Whether you are Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or […] whether you are an organizational leader or are simply interested in ethical leadership, Religion and Contemporary Management serves as a model for people who want to become the kind of leaders that our modern world truly needs.”
—Traci Shoblom, Owner and Creative Director, Shoblom Productions, USA

“Religion and Contemporary Management presents Moses, a hero to three religious traditions, as an exemplary leader whose blend of skill, character and vision defies easy categorization. Wolak’s analysis is informative, inspiring, interdisciplinary and integrative—an excellent read for both beginners and experts.”
—Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan, Director of Inter-Religious Studies, Vancouver School of Theology, Canada

Dr. Arthur J. Wolak is President of CMI Chat Media Inc. He received his PhD in management from Macquarie University, Australia, and earned graduate degrees in comparative religion from Gratz College. Wolak has published articles in ‘The International Journal of Organizational Analysis’, ‘The Australasian Canadian Studies Journal’ and ‘The Jewish Bible Quarterly’.

"While we know that great historical figures such as Moses had a profound influence on our world, we often know much less about what they actually did to accomplish their impact. Wolak provides a revealing study of Moses’ key leadership attributes and, most importantly, how these are applicable today. This book is a compelling read on how we can become more reflective about what we need to do to develop ourselves and others to become the leaders we wish to be.” –John Milliman, Professor of Management & Organization, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, USA

"This book is an interesting study in leadership qualities and many different theories of leadership... [It] would serve as a welcome resource for any person ... in a leadership or management position."
—Jewish Bible Quarterly (Vol. 47, No. 2)

‘Leadership’ is crucial to contemporary business, politics, and organizations of every type, including the corporate, non-profit, educational, and government sectors. While modern leadership theorists suggest various models, traits, and approaches to leadership behavior that purport novelty, Ecclesiastes just may have been right that ‘There is nothing new under the sun’. The biblical figure of Moses – a familiar name both to adherents of the Western religious traditions and to people who are not – provides an exemplary model of effective leadership that is broadly applicable. Moses is depicted in the Bible as exhibiting ‘heroic’ and ‘charismatic’ tendencies. He was certainly empathic. Yet Moses also shows ‘transactional’, ‘transformational’ and ‘visionary’ leadership qualities. A leader of good character, Moses exhibits features similar to the Yiddish term, ‘mensch’ – someone showing responsibility and integrity, knowing right from wrong.

Though few might think of Moses as a ‘leader’ or a ‘manager’ in the contemporary sense, Moses not only holds a firm place among the most significant leaders in Western civilization but is arguably the quintessential example of leadership from whom much can be learned by people entering and occupying leadership positions. While current leadership and management vocabulary might differ from the Hebrew Bible, many of the traits, behaviors and actions advocated by modern leadership theorists appear to emulate those of Moses. Wolak contrasts contemporary leadership ideas with biblical and rabbinic sources that show Moses’ leadership qualities, Moses serves as an ancient model with current relevance for what modern leadership theorists argue make for an effective leader.

‘Religion and Contemporary Management’ discusses and compares original and critical biblical and rabbinic sources with current business leadership and management literature, revealing what leadership theorists’ advocate today largely emulates what the Bible depicts as effective leadership through Moses’ example. Hence, Moses’ influence on current leadership trends in Western culture appears pervasive, even if contemporary leadership theorists do not typically cite Moses as an important source for leadership precedent.

In Religion and Contemporary Management: Moses as a Model for Effective Leadership, "Readers will learn as much about leadership in general as they will about Moses and, of course, will take away some pointers on how to improve their skills in this area.”
—Jewish Independent

“Moses is shown to be a mensch with a visionary tough empathy approach to empowerment of people that fits well with the needs and expectations of our time.”
—Charles Wankel, Professor of Management, St. John’s University, USA

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Cover Cover1
Front Matter i
Half-title i
Title page iii
Copyright information iv
Dedication v
Epigraph vi
Table of contents vii
Foreword ix
Foreword xi
Acknowledgments xv
About the Author xvii
Introduction 1
Chapter (1-8) 5
Chapter 1 Ancient Leadership for Present Times 5
Chapter 2 Defining Leadership 13
What Is Leadership? 19
Moses as a Prototype for Leadership 22
Chapter 3 Leaders and Managers 27
The Leader and Transformational Leadership 27
The Manager 30
Differentiating Leaders from Managers 32
Chapter 4 Heroism, Charisma and Their Limitations 37
Heroic Leadership and the Great Man Theory 37
Charismatic Leadership 42
Chapter 5 Empathic Leadership 49
The Importance of Empathy 49
Developing Empathy 61
Chapter 6 Humility—the Antithesis of Arrogance 63
The Problem of Arrogance 64
Modesty and Holiness 72
Mercy—Demonstrating Compassion 80
The “Mensch Factor”—a Leader’s Good Character Matters 85
Chapter 7 Moses’ Essential Leadership Skills 89
Visionary Leadership 90
Implementing a Mission Statement 94
Leading with Management Skills 99
Empowerment and Delegation 101
Wisdom and Values 108
Conflict Resolution 110
Leadership Continuity 117
Chapter 8 Assessing Moses’ Leadership Style 119
Resisting the Cult of Leadership 121
Moses as a Timeless Leader 126
End Matter 129
Glossary 129
Bibliography 137
Index 143